Tag: Vietnam War

Synthesis of select War Literature by Tim O’Brien, Ann Jones and Michael Herr

The hallmark of good literature is that it combines art with raising social consciousness. This is certainly true of the 3 classics perused for this essay. Falling into different genres like fiction, nonfiction and reportage, the three works treat the social consequences of war in their own unique ways. The rest of this essay will show how themes of love, loss, perception and reality are adequately addressed in these works.

The Things They Carried is an assortment of short stories penned by Tim O’Brien based on his first hand experiences in Vietnam. O’Brien was part of the platoon called Alpha Company, which was actively engaged in combat with the Vietnamese. As a result, though the stories contain fictitious additions, they are mostly based on real events witnessed by the author. Several themes recur through these stories. Chief among them are love, camaraderie and courage. Love is most pronounced in the relationship between Cross and Martha. Cross agrees to narrate his . . . Read More

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Imperialism in the film Apocalypse Now

Imperialism enables a state or country to increase its sphere of influence by seizing control of foreign territories. The film Apocalypse Now, based on the story Heart of Darkness, was produced in 1979 during the Vietnam War era and explores the role imperialism played in US foreign policy. The film highlights the drawbacks of imperialism by revealing the atrocities committed by the US Military, allegedly, in the name of freedom. The most tragic aspect of the Vietnam War was the huge numbers of civilian casualties, including women and children. Indeed, the chemical warfare exercised by American troops in the form of deploying Agent Orange (napalm) for deforesting the region is a major disaster for the local population. As a result of contamination of these heavy toxins, a whole generation of children was born with deformities and genetic mutations. Hence those who are apologists for imperialism are on the side of the unjust.

Military intervention in Vietnam was a part of a . . . Read More

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Compare & Contrast: Wilfred Owen’s poem Dulce Et Decrum Est and Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried

The most painful episodes of twentieth century history are its wars. Starting with the losses of the First World War in 1914 the Second World War was even more catastrophic.  Then followed the theatre of the Cold War, in which the American military intervened far and wide in the globe. Notable examples include the Korean War and the Vietnam War. The two works in discussion, Wilfred Owen’s “Dulce Et Decrum Est” and Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” talk about two of the several wars of the recent century, namely the First World War and the Vietnam War. The political context, military strategy and technological aids employed in these two wars were quite different. Yet, their human tragedy remains the same.  Separated by half a century, these two conflicts reflected the global geo-political power equations of their respective times.  The two authors, far from glorifying war, present the realities of it in all its gory detail.  Their works clearly suggest that . . . Read More

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Successes of the United States Marine Corps Combined Action Program in South Vietnam

Explain the role of US Marines in the CAP. What was their unit organization and daily life like? Cite a specific patrol as an example of how CAP worked with indigenous force personnel. Identify three key strengths of the CAP and demonstrate three examples and their overall effectiveness in the war in South Vietnam. Give two examples of how the basic idea of CAP is in use today.

The Combined Action Program was a strategic military formation that was first devised to address a particular problem during the Vietnam War.  An infantry battalion faced challenges with an expanding Tactical Area of Responsibility (TAOR).  A squad of Marines is combined with locally recruited Popular Forces (PFs), which is collectively assigned a village to protect.  This strategy worked out very effectively during Vietnam War operations and proved to be a force multiplier.

The configuration of a village defense platoon is arrived upon combining a Marine squad with indigenous forces.  This . . . Read More

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What was the prime motive in American intervention in Vietnam in the 1960s?

The U.S. involvement in Vietnam is a cause of embarrassment and regret to all those involved.  When John F. Kennedy started the war the fear of communism via the ‘domino effect’ was the rationale given to public.  But such fears were far from real and soon the general public got to understand the basic facts and motivations behind American intervention in Vietnam.

State apologists like Joseph Alsop took issue draft resistors or conscientious objectors to the war in Vietnam.  By a convoluted mal-use of logic, Alsop argued that resisting the draft is equivalent to supporting Soviet tyranny and totalitarianism.  But in truth, the resistors were expressing solidarity with the victims of war – the hordes of Vietnamese citizens who lost their lives for no fault of theirs.  Such dissident voices as that of boxing great Muhammad Ali made it clear that the war was illegitimate and unjust.

Journalistic dispatches from Vietnam soon proved the bitter reality of conflict . . . Read More

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Richard Nixon – his successes and failures

Richard Nixon is one of the most controversial Presidents in the history of the United States.  Having first served as Vice-President to President Dwight Eisenhower during the 1950s, he won the Presidential elections in 1968 and served in this role for the next six years.  Affiliated to the Republican Party, his achievements were limited to a few landmark agreements in foreign diplomacy.  But for most part, his tenure as President was marred by a series of controversies starting with the Vietnam War and ending with the Watergate scandal.  Although started by the Kennedy-Johnson Administration, it was President Nixon who oversaw the peak of the war in Vietnam.  This war would lead to loss of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese lives and 50,000 American lives.  Waged on grounds of ideological defense against Soviet Communism, the Vietnam War proved to be a public relations disaster for the American government and depleted its treasury.  Eventually, the war was called-off by . . . Read More

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Contrasting perspectives on the Vietnam War

The Vietnam War that was started by President John F. Kennedy and later continued by President Lyndon Johnson was one of the most debated and discussed war in the period after the Second World War. At the time of its initiation, there was hardly any public protest. Even the leading intellectuals of the time were either in support of it or indifferent to it. The only question that was discussed in the mainstream media and scholarship of the time was whether the United States can win the war in Vietnam. Howard Zinn was an exception to this rule in that he considered this question to be irrelevant. He reckoned that American policy makers and citizens should first answer this more important question, namely, “Is it legitimate and morally correct for the United States to invade Vietnam in the first place?” This position was radically different from the mainstream consensus of the day. Even in the American Promise text written by James Roark, the moral and legal aspects of the Vietnam . . . Read More

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Why America lost the war in Vietnam

The Vietnam War is also known as the second of the Indochina Wars.  It was waged between the late 1950’s and the mid 1970’s.  The lush forested terrain of the Vietnamese country side was the battleground for much of the war.  The force of the North Vietnam, which was basically oriented towards communism, was seen as a threat by the American government.  It believed that left uncontrolled, the spread of communism would usurp the democratic South Vietnam as well.  Hence, the American government decided to send troops in support of South Vietnam and retain its democratic government.  This wider context of the war made it one of the tense phases of the Cold war period.

There were several reasons for the defeat of the United States in the Vietnam War.  Some of the important ones are discussed in the following passages.  First of all, the American government underestimated the organizing capabilities of the Viet Cong and its supporters.  Another important reason for . . . Read More

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